Saturday, February 07, 2009

Eat to the beat

Courtesy of a heads-up on Boing Boing, news of a book sale from the folks at PictureBox Press (which ends Feb 8, btw). I admit I've got my eye on this volume saluting the work of the album design company Hipgnosis, who were behind many an iconic LP sleeve from the 70s, from Pink Floyd to 10CC to Wings. I've leafed through this particular coffee-table book and it's a beaut, with visual and verbal accounts of the thought processes behind those witty, often surreal covers, including rejected concepts. I was a teenager during the heyday of Hipgnosis, and I remember finding their distinctive company name in the liner notes of album after album--the first designers I was ever aware of. Sometimes their aesthetic seemed great, other times really appalling (just like the music!), but it always set the tone of the contents. They were also masters of using every square inch of "real estate"--gatefold sleeves, sleeve jackets, the label on the disc itself--to extend the look and theme of the cover. (People often lamented the death of album design in the era of the CD, but I never bought it, because many a designer was smart enough to adjust to the smaller canvas. What was missing in CD packaging was all the ephemera--inner sleeves, poster inserts, etc.) (History in the making! The preceding parenthetical comment marks the first time I've referred to CDs in the past tense. And alas, there truly is NO packaging involved in the average MP3 download.)

There's a lot more here, too, including beautifully packaged works by Gary Panter, Michel Gondry, and others. But act fast, because at full price, most of 'em will cost you major coin, and you'll be reduced to eating vinyl like the gentleman on the book cover.

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